Tuesday's ride had highs and lows in equal amounts. It was a great bag day. Every thing stayed exactly in place. The ride east from Fruita, Co could not have been more pleasant. The temps started in the low 80s and remained there for some time. In the end, the temperatures ranged from 58 degrees F, to 100. The ride through different terrains kept the temps fluctuating and interesting. For riding, the temp changes proved both comfortable and downright miserable.
Riding in fifty-eight degrees F through the mountains is cold, not chilly, downright cold! It is especially cold when gusty winds blast the chilly air at you and around you. My mesh jacked wasn't made for warmth and it lived up to its "cool" design. Highest elevation encountered topped 11,000 feet (near Shrine Pass, for example). The higher we climbed, the colder the air. At times, a huge dark cloud would covered the ground. Riding under these caused a temporary drop in temperature too. These hovering clouds also made for nice contrast with the sun shimmering on the mountains White River National Forest area—freezing—but offers lots of beautiful vistas. More breath-taking views—it almost took my mind off how cold I was. Eventually, I took advantage of a rest area/overlook and changed to a warmer jacket. That, and turning on my handlebar heater, allowed me to relax and enjoy the rest of the way.
This is ski country and the area is filled with quirky shops, rentals, camping and mountain roads! Aspen, Vail, Cooper Mountain, Loveland Pass, wilderness areas—whatever your passion, it's here. Riding through canyons, tunnels, following the Colorado river, and attacking squigglies, make I-70 endlessly entertaining and spirited. The Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel, the former heads west, the later heads east, was a tad slow due to some department of transportation activity in the tunnel. Still, all the tunnels rides were fun. Lots of nice overlooks and rest areas along I-70.
I think it was somewhere around Georgetown that things turned ugly. A backup lasted forever, or so it seemed. We inched along for miles. My clutch hand was screaming. It was a challenge to stop on slanted, uneven ground. Eventually, we came upon the detritus of an accident around a bend. Police and transportation workers were busy clearing the path.
More ugliness came when I reached Denver. Chicago has some pretty intense traffic. But in Denver, the traffic around 4:20ish, was insane! Every eastbound and westbound lane was grid locked. All exits were backed up. Where I-70 and I-25 forked, the halted cars looked like a still photograph. That back up was not moving! My left hand pain returned with a vengeance. The repeated pulling and easing out the clutch for many miles left me with a throbbing palm. I had removed the stock levers because they are impossible for me to use. These Wunderlich's are a life saver but today even these babies could not save my left hand.
I called it quits in Denver. My goal was to get past Denver, like another 200ish miles out. Alas, I was beaten by traffic, and a left hand that felt as if it had been pounded repeatedly with a rubber mallet. Downtown Denver hotel prices are the highest I've encountered on the trip. Ouch!